Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani had a lifelong love for Imam Ridha (as)/He considered ziarat a way to strengthen one's belief in monotheism

  • Date 28 January 2022
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Astan News' interview with His Eminence about late Great Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani (may God bless his soul) and his love for visiting the holy shrine of Imam Ridha (as)

Since we are having the Decade of Dignity (the end of which marks the birthday anniversary of Imam Ridha (as)), in order to learn how eager scholars and religious great figures were to go on pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam Ridha (as), Astan News held an interview with Ayatullah Muahmmad Javad Fazel Lankarani about late Shiite marja' Great Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani (d. 2007) on how the late marja' treated visiting the holy shrine of Imam Ridha (as). The following contains this interview in detail.

About his late father’s love for Imam Ridha (as) and eagerness to visit the holy shrine of the Imam, Ayatullah Muhammad Javad Fazel Lankarani stated, “My father placed utmost importance on visiting Imam Ridha’s Holy Shrine. I remember from a young age that every year he took us, his family, to Mashhad and stayed there for one month. While there, sometimes he went to the Holy Shrine three times a day. Each of his visits took one or two hours. He was intent to sit where the head of the grave lies to perform ziarat.”

“In his visits to the holy shrine, my father used to recite the ziarat of Jami’ah Kabirah,” said the Head of the Infallible Imams’ Jurisprudential Center. He continued, “As he grew older, my father visited the holy shrine twice a day. In the last days of his life, I remember that despite so much difficulty imposed on him by his poor health, my father was insistent to visit the holy shrine at least once a day. As a result of not being able to walk stairs down, he used to sit in a room near the grave, performed ziarat and regretted that he could not do ziarat the way he did in the past.”

His last ziarat

“Late Great Ayatullah Lankarani was very insistent in visiting the Imam’s holy shrine and encouraged his family to perform ziarat as much as they could,” Ayatullah Lankarani Added. He said, “During his last visit to the holy shrine, after he had recited the farewell ziarat, when he saw the pilgrims forcing their way through the crowd to reach the grave, he regretted that he could not go nearer.” He continued, “My father told me, 'I left the holy shrine and had walked just few steps when one of the servants of the holy shrine said, ‘Would you like me to take you near the grave?’ ’Yes,’ I replied. 'He opened a way for me without pushing people away. I went closer and could put my face on the grave and recited the ziarat of Amin Allah. This was very enjoyable for me. On the way back, I asked the man, ‘What made you suggest taking me close to the grave?’ he said, ‘It was as if someone from the grave called upon me and told me, ‘Bring this Sheikh near the grave!’ That servant (who is still alive) said, ‘This is the second time this is happening to me. It had happened once regarding Ayatullah Bahjat and this time it happened regarding you!’”

Entreating the Imam to heal a patient

As for late Great Ayatullah Lankarani seeking help from Imam Ridha (as) and solving problems this way, Ayatullah Lankarani stated, “One of our relatives had speech problems. Late Great Ayatullah Lankarani asked that the patient be brought to Mashhad and he would request the Imam (as) for healing. My father used to go to the holy shrine with that relative of us until his illness was healed and his speech problem was gone.”

Indicating that his father benefitted a lot from the Imam (as) scientifically and spiritually, Ayatullah lankarani added, “Going on pilgrimage to Mashhad and visiting Imam Ridha’s holy shrine was an act my father did every year.”

Ziarat is a way to strengthen one's belief in monotheism and acquire more knowledge about God

Pointing out that his father regarded ziarat as effective in strengthening one’s belief in monotheism, Ayatullah Lankarani narrated that his father said, “As long as we do not believe in the Imams’ position, we are not true believers. Being a true monotheist is dependent on such knowledge.” “My father made these pilgrimages,” Ayatullah Lankarani said, “to increase his knowledge about Imam Ridha (as) and other Imams (as). We too felt that after his pilgrimages he had become more knowledgeable about Imam Ridha (as) and the other Imams (as). That was because he believed ziarat a necessary requisite and component of true monotheism.

Ayatollah Lankarani added, “When in the holy shrine, my father considered himself in the presence of Imam Ridha (as). He used to speak with the Imam (as) and believed that the Imam (as) was the intermediary between God and people and the way through which one can attain knowledge of this world and the hereafter.”

He was insistent on performing Ja’far Tayyar prayer in Imam Ridha’s holy shrine

In response to the question that what payers and supplications late Great Ayatullah Lankarani used to say in Imam Ridha’s holy shrine, Ayatullah Muhammad Javad Fazel Lankarani said, “He used to perform Ja’far Tayyar prayer and also the prayer that is a part of ziarat of Imam Ridha (as) in which after Hamd in the first rakat surah Yasin is recited and in the second rakat after Hamd surah al-Rahman is recited. He used to sit in a humble manner where the head of the grave lies. When he was busy performing ziarat, we could not speak with him since he was absorbed in ziarat. Each of his visits to the holy shrine lasted one hour or two. He recited the ziarat of Amin Allah. He paid special attention to performing ziarat on special days and occasions.”

As for his father's ziarat of Imam Ridha (as) from afar, Ayatullah Lankarani stated, “Since performing ziarat from afar is also a recommended act, whenever my father could not go on pilgrimage, he used to do ziarat from afar. In the last days of my father's life that his health had deteriorated, late Ayatullah Tabrizi had sent him a message suggesting that he go to Imam Ridha’s holy shrine for healing. My father also really liked to to go for ziarat but in the last 6-7 months of his life he could hardly even move. When I told him about Ayatullah Tabrizi's suggestion, my father asked me to do an istikharh saying that if it came out good we would go no matter how difficult it might be. I did the istikharah which came out negative. Upon seeing the result, my father said, ‘It seems that this time it is not destined for us to go for ziarat!’”

Saying that his father was insistent to perform ziarat and show his love for Imam Ridha (as), Ayatullah Lankarani pointed out, “Our financial situation did let us stay in a hotel and the like when we were in Mashhad, so my father would rent a house in Sarshur Alley near the holy shrine for one month and stayed there with his family. All his and our time was spent going to the holy shrine and we would not spend time doing other things or having fun.”

He benefitted a lot from the ziarat of Imam Ridha (as)

Saying that his father benefitted a lot from these pilgrimages, the Head of the Infallible Imams’ Jurisprudential Center added, “During the Iran-Iraq war when the city of Qom was under the threat of air raids, we asked him to spend the month of Ramadhan in Mashhad … My father wrote the book al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah during his one month stay in Mashhad which was blessed by being near the Imam (as).”

He continued, “In addition to that, his office in Mashhad was very active during his lifetime. In his will, he had written, ‘I wish that this office remains and every Thursday rawdha is recited in here.’ It was his dream that Mashhad Seminary, being blessed with closeness to Imam Ridha’s holy shrine, excel even more. The Infallible Imam’s Jurisprudential Center, which he had built some 20 years ago, is also very active. These all were not but because of the blessings he received due to his love for the Shiites' eighth Imam (as).”

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